PIKE COUNTY - A shared interest in bettering their community, led many teenagers to roll up their sleeves and conquer spiders and mice in Pike County, Saturday. During the United Way of Pike County’s 17th annual Day of Caring, volunteers were stationed at organizations throughout the region to complete odd and end jobs that would otherwise come at a cost. 

Outside of the Pike County Library, several Delaware Valley students were found to be cleaning and removing marks from walls. The Executive Director of the library, Rose Chiocchi said the volunteers were doing everything the staff of the library didn’t have time to do, which was greatly appreciated. Last year, the volunteers painted the basement and this year they cleaned and organized inside and outside of the building. Since they were at the library, Chiocchi said it was an opportunity for the teenagers to get out and see what is happening in their community.  

The day starts at the high school where the volunteers are given their assignments and then bussed to the many locations. This was Maddy Jorritsma’s first Day of Caring and she said the day was “fun” because she was with her friends and out in the community helping others. A junior at DV, Jorritsma volunteered with Sarah Nackman and together they were victorious over the many spiders that made homes around the columns outside of the library. This was Nackman’s third year participating in the day and she said it was important for friends to be involved since their community is a “significant part of your life.” She explained that, there was a time when her community supported her family, and it meant a lot. When with friends, Jorritsma said everything is fun. 

A sophomore at DV Erika Cutaia said the Day of Caring is “special” because when working with friends and helping their community, together they are able to create “special moments” that they will one day remember. One such moment for Cutaia was trying to remove the spiders from the library’s columns on the porch. Their efforts, she called “an adventure.”

This was the ninth year that volunteers were at the Center for Developmental Disabilities (CDD) during the Day of Caring and each year, the Executive Director Lisa Randazzo said their efforts are very appreciated because, affording all of the chores that were addressed Saturday can be costly, especially for a not for profit organization. Besides having various areas of the center “spruced up,” the reality is that the volunteers did things that likely would not have otherwise been done which makes for a “tremendous day.” 

Every year the volunteers paint, organize storage areas and address toys or fences that need attention. Because it was the end of season, going into winter with everything organized was nice Randazzo said. As well, while painting some of the DV volunteers were having fun as they made smocks out of garbage bags that they tied around their waists to avoid getting paint on their clothes. With some of the volunteers returning each year, they have come to know one another and some have gone on to volunteer at CDD at other times. 

Sporting a homemade skirt to protect her clothes, junior Guiona Lewis was all smiles as she worked and proudly wore her homemade plastic skirt. This was Lewis’s third Day of Caring and this year she scrapped paint off tables, painted them, did some leaf blowing and some gardening.       

Nash Hamill, a junior also said the day was fun since he was with friends and helping nonprofit organization that work to help others. 

The work of the volunteers, Tamara Chant, the executive director of Safe Haven said was “awesome” since the 15 volunteers organized toiletries and such items that would be available for clients. With one room organized now, room for clothing donations was made. Having gone through stuff, dusted and vacuumed, Chant said their work was “amazing” because everyone worked hard and did a great job.

Volunteering, Chant feels is important and it was obvious some of the students had volunteered before and they realized how important their help was. With volunteers always needed and Domestic Violence Month next month, the volunteers’ preparedness was especially appreciated. Having the students at Safe Haven, Chant said was “extremely important” because they are now aware of the resource and are able to spread the word about the organization. 

Giving the volunteers some free reign to organize a room where children who have been abused may visit, Chant was pleased with how the volunteers arranged some children’s drums and stuffed animals in a room. With so many small projects to be done, the volunteers’ help was “fantastic” as they were very energetic and appeared to really enjoy themselves as they were volunteering. 

A senior Kristopher Krensner was at Safe Haven with his friends who had been participating in the Day of Caring since they were freshman. Krensner said the day means a lot to him because he feels it is important to go out into his community and help. Last year he was at the CDD and being there and learning about the organization was a “humbling experience” as well with Safe Haven which he wasn’t familiar with.

Jordan Metzger said the Day of Caring was a chance to “give back to the community” which is something people need to do because of all that is happening in the world and so, such days gave the volunteers a chance to “connect” with one another. This was Metzger’s third Day of Caring. The experience of giving back and helping others, simply she said is one of the best feelings.

At the Ann Street School, the DV varsity and junior varsity tennis teams were busy organizing and cleaning. Lexi Stefaniak, who is a sophomore was at her first Day of Caring where she turned mulch, cleaned toys and removed sand from a sandbox. Kayla Gaughan who is a junior said the various tasks that were completed were “rewarding chores.” Since she had never cleaned a playground before, standing back and looking at what she and her friends had done, Stefaniak said it felt as though they had “accomplished a lot.”

A senior Bryana Rose was at her third Day of Caring Saturday and each year she has learned more about her community, such as this year she wasn’t familiar with the Ann Street School.

The Director of the Ann Street School Dianna Thatcher said the volunteers did a great job because aside from turning mulch and replacing it, they emptied 1,500 pounds of sand from the sandbox which they then refilled with 1,500 pounds of new sand.  

Being with her teammates during the Day of Caring, senior Maeve Dowd said was great since they were able to “bond” and help their community. Also, though, going through town and seeing the successful efforts of the volunteers was nice as people were appreciating their efforts. This was Dowd’s fourth Day of Caring, and she started after hearing her siblings say how much fun they had when they were involved.

While what they were doing was “hard work,” Hannah Larson who is a senior said it was “fun” to think about what they did together and how they were helping others. This was Larson’s fourth Day of Caring, two years which she did by herself before joining the tennis team. Larson initially volunteered she said, because she believes that helping others feels good since it is the little things they were doing that may make a difference to someone else.

For more information about the United Way of Pike County visit http://www.unitedwaypike.org/.  (More photos are found on page A8 of the Wednesday issue and www.neagle.com.)